August 6, 2008

Where the hagdowns sail and the foghorns wail

It did indeed rain here today, so in keeping with the rules, the civic holiday of Regatta Day, and the Regatta itself will be moved the next non-rainy/windy day. That left us with a day free and we knew just where to go.

There's an iconic song here called "Let me fish off Cape St. Mary's" and today Joe and I drove across the peninsula to find out about the place. Dudes, let me tell you, it was one of those days you file away in your heart or your head, one of those days that you tuck into the description of your days on this earth, and can draw on when you have to list out what you did while you were here. If I ever have to describe the earth to an alien, I'll have to try and find a way to explain the things I saw this day.
First, a lesson. A couple of comments and emails yesterday let me know that I need to toss out a little more information out there if people are going to follow properly, so here's a little background. We are in the Newfoundland part of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
I have thoughtfully circled it on a map of Canada that I have thoughtlessly boosted from the Government of Canada.


Newfoundland was the last province to join confederation in 1949, but has been inhabited longer than nearly anywhere else in North America... people have lived here since at least 7000 BC and St. John's is the oldest English founded city in North America. The Newfoundland part is an island, far off in the North Atlantic.

Closer look? Sure. This is just the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I've circled the Avalon Peninsula, which is where St. John's is, which is where we are. (Mostly.)


This is a map of just the Avalon Peninsula, taken in the car today, and it shows where we started in St. John's,


and where we ended up in Cape St. Mary's, about 3 hours away by car. (We hear it can be done in 2 hours. We aren't sure how that's happening, but we're pretty sure it's not raining when they do it. That this jaunt across a tiny piece of the province takes 3 hours also gives you an idea of how big this province is.) It was still raining when we got there, but it did let up enough for it not to be a miserable experience, just a damp one. Upon stepping out of the car there were sheep and and a lighthouse overlooking cliffs to the sea, which is just about as cool as I thought things could get,


and then we started walking. It was damp and muddy and I kept hoping that there would be something really excellent at the end of the walk, but by the time that both of my shoes squishing when I walked, I couldn't imagine what it could be. There were irises growing in great swathes where we walked.


Rocks and cliffs are pretty to look at, very pretty indeed, but still a titch on the dismal side. I hate rain so much that it's possible I may have been a cat in a previous life, so there was little joy in me as I walked, I admit it... especially as the grass soaked my pants to the knees. We walked some more, and far off we saw some birds.


Don't see the birds? They're the white on the rocks. Seriously. We walked more all the way around those cliffs... see birds yet? (Yup. Joe has short hair at present.)


Dudes. Birds everywhere. Birds on rocks. Birds in the air. Birds rocking on the sea.


Northern gannet, (gannet are huge, up to a 2m wingspan. That's 6.5 ft.) black-legged kittiwake, murre, razorbill, double-crested and great cormorants, they've all decided that Bird Rock is the place to be, and its a swirling incredible thing. You stand on the edge of the cliff on a spit of rock that juts out, and the birds are on a sea stack right there in front of you.


The noise - I can't even tell you about the noise. It's like some sort of bird plane is landing.. or a bird train is running. There are calls and squacks and no end to the beating of wings and the cries over the ocean. Top that off with the foghorn going off back where we starting walking and it's a cacophony the likes of which I've never heard. We were pretty stunned,


and then the rain picked up again, and back we went along the top of the cliffs through the grass and the iris to the lighthouse and the sheep, and drove back home along a road by the ocean, across the Avalon Peninsula, all the way back to sit in a wee house by the sea, drink tea (and wine) and see if the rain stops for the Royal Regatta.

I love it here.

(PS. If you have any knitted goods to sell, I have it on very good authority that a table can be had at the town festival in St. Brides (a stones throw from Cape St. Mary's) for only $10.)

Posted by Stephanie at August 6, 2008 11:45 PM